It was back in early 2011 when Wayan stumbled across a news article that said that memorandum of understanding concerning the introduction of OLPC in Armenia - or more specifically the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) - had been signed. The so-called NUR initiative is a result of a collaboration between the NKR government, the New York based Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and an Argentinean-Armenian businessman called Eduardo Eurnekian.
Now last week about half a dozen articles appeared on Armenian Web sites which contained more information about the initiative which will be launched shortly. times.am provided the most comprehensive article from what I've seen. Among other things it says:
The government of NKR has agreed to provide the internet connection at the schools, which is one of the key aspects of the Plan.
In a first stage, in September 2011, 160 teachers from schools in the cities of Stepanakert and Shoushi will start the training which will consist of a 3 week intensive course on SUGAR, the educational Software of the XO. They will also attend a 6 week virtual course to incorporate further updates on the different programs to be used with the students.
The following stage will consist of the deployment of NUR Plan laptops to 3.600 children, promoting equal opportunities and integrating technology in everyday school classes. The schedule will be agreed with the government of NKR.
I was particularly excited to see the mention of teacher training happening before the pupils receive the laptops. In the past too many other OLPC and similar ICT4E projects unfortunately did this the other way around which tends to lead to problems down the road.
At the same time one probably shouldn't be surprised about seeing such a decision given that no other than Uruguay's Plan Ceibal has been providing consulting support for the NUR project since early 2011.
Back in September 2010 I mentioned that Plan Ceibal is working very hard to make Montevideo the OLPC capital of the world. One of the key ingredients of that strategy is their "services to the exterior" consulting arm. As I write this the corresponding Web site is still partially under construction however you can see a news-item called "Project Nur: From idea to execution in six months, with the advice of Plan Ceibal" which links to their success stories section.
It's going to be very interesting to see how well Plan Ceibal will be able to channel its experiences into recommendations for other projects and organizations. Particularly for countries which don't have all the pre-existing infrastructure, resources, and human capital which you can find in the Switzerland of South America. However I do have to say that these first public signs are certainly very encouraging and I hope it will enable many projects to avoid what Alan Kay has called "reinventing the flat tire".